Brendon Bolton is backing his winless Carlton side against Adelaide despite missing Charlie Curnow.Winless and undermanned Carlton refuse to acknowledge their trip to Adelaide Oval is mission impossible, with coach Brendon Bolton declaring the Blues up for the challenge.
Saturday night’s clash between last year’s minor premiers Adelaide (4-2) and Carlton (0-6) appears as much of a certainty as you can get in the AFL.
The Blues are missing perhaps their three most important players, with Charlie Curnow (ankle) joining skipper Marc Murphy and key defender Sam Docherty on the injury list.
Then of course, there’s long-serving midfielder Bryce Gibbs, who will line up against the Blues for the first time after his off-season switch to the Crows.
It’s understandable then, that Bolton mentioned the importance of “little wins” several times when discussing the contest.
But he wants to get one thing clear.
“We go to win every game,” he said on Friday.
“There’s no doubt about that. If you go to accept mediocrity and not trying to win there’s issues.
“In saying that we’ve got to look with this young group for the little wins.”
Bolton name checked second-season midfielder Zac Fisher and three-gamer Lachie O’Brien as encapsulating what the Blues are trying to do, with performances that have kept confidences up despite their winless run.
“I see the blue skies in that and our team does too,” he said.
“The spirit’s high and its my duty to nurture that spirit with youngsters.
“They are doing things above really what they can do in their first and second year.”
While Carlton always saw this season as another developmental year, there’s clearly frustration that injuries have hampered their ability to get their best 22 on the field.
At least ruckman Matthew Kreuzer returns this week, alongside starlet Jarrod Garlett and Nick Graham.
Curnow and Caleb Marchbank (ankle) are out, with Jack Silvagni dropped.
The Crows also have three changes.
Livewire forward Eddie Betts returns, along with Jake Kelly and first-season sensation Darcy Fogarty.
Captain Taylor Walker misses with hamstring complaint, Myles Poholke has been axed and Riley Knight is being managed.
Bolton played down the match as a grudge encounter with Gibbs, saying he understood the South Australian’s desire to be with family – but didn’t completely rule out the possibility of fireworks.
“Some of our players are going to be in his wedding party so there’s some strong connections there,” he said.
“(Will there be) no niggle? We’ll see how it unfolds.”
“For the two hours it’ll be game on.”
Australian Associated Press